Other Product Projects

Retrospective: ọkọ̀ Product shoot for Setovilla

While I am away resting and relaxing, I am also enjoying dusting off some older photo collections I had good fun shooting, including this great shoot from around a year ago. Enjoy!

One of the best things to find in work is something you love doing, and something that works to better the world at the same time. For me, working with the wonderful Setovilla on their new range of ọkọ̀ hibiscus drinks was just that.

Bottles of OKO by Setovilla Sitting in an ice bucket with lemons

A few years ago, when I was just starting my business, I worked with Temi on getting some portrait photographs in a mixture of different styles, and we stayed in touch. Since then, she has gone on to help develop a non-profit organisation Setovilla to support the people who need it most.

OKO hibiscus drink by Setovilla in a bottle and a glass, with lemons, Yerba Mate, a jar of hibiscus, and a pineapple in the background

In the early stages of my business I worked with Temi, getting a variety of portrait shots for professional and personal use, and we stayed in touch! She has been busy working with Setovilla to support children and young people who need the support most. (This was my favourite shot, taken in a lift on the way to the actual planned location, naturally).

In the words of Setovilla:

We are on a mission to help children and young people succeed! We sell ọkọ̀ drinks online and in-store, pledging 60% of our profits to improve education and employability skills for young people from low socio- economic backgrounds. We launched in July 2021 and in the next 5 years, we aspire to distribute 500 Setobags (educational kits, each valued at £50) to children in need around the world. Also, we aspire to engage an additional 250 young adults to support their pathways into work through CV clinics and workshops. We exist to make education and employment more attainable for disadvantaged children by giving them the basic tools to excel.’

After sending over some sample drinks, and looking at some branding and colour ideas, I raided about 30 charity shops for small interesting things to add to the shoot and matched what we had in mind, alongside some of the key ingredients of ọkọ̀.

An overhead view of a glass of OKO by Setovilla with ice and ingredients nearby on a wooden board

After finding everything I needed, I started to build the set and the lighting. Working with real ice under hot lights is always an interesting experience, giving you a suprisingly short time frame before it melts. As a result, it was a process of setting up the shots just right, and then running to the freezer, grabbing some ice, and trying to fit it all together before it melted completely.

A close up on the zero sugar OKO drink surrounded by cinnamon sticks, lemons, and a glass of the drink

Using a mixture of the core ingredients (Hibiscus, Yerba Mate, Cinnamon, Mints, and loads more), some of the parts found in charity shops, and other items I already had from previous projects, it all came together, and I am really happy with how the images turned out.

The best part, afterwards I had about 6 bottles of ọkọ̀ to drink in the middle of summer, which kept me going for a few weeks! If they sound good to you, check them out here.

Film Projects

Blood Moon: Ritual and Menstruation, A Short Film

Content warning: Imitation blood, themes of menstruation

A lot of my day to day work, event photography, wedding photography, has unsurprisingly been a lot more challenging during the pandemic period. However, with that cloud, comes the opportunity to use the time to work on some ambitious personal and colloborative projects, and that is what this is.

Blood Moon, is a short film I have created in collaboration with Katrin Blackwater, and many other talented creators, inspired by the early rituals around menstrual bleeding, produced for the Beltane Online Fire Festival, BonFire 2021.

Katrin and I have worked on a number of projects before, but this was probably our most involved, and I am incredibly proud with how well it has turned out.

(Katrin also has an amazing exhibition at time of writing in the Greenwood Cafe, in Edinburgh, I highly recommend checking it out if you can.

As with my Fantasy Photoshoot with Stephanie, and several other projects, Roslin Glen was the location for the majority of the filming, and as always is the most etherial, wonderful location for photography and video.

As someone who is less biologically connected to the subject matter than others, I took more of a technical and logistical role, operating cameras, editing, sorting equipment, and file management. Despite that, I felt very invested in the piece, and I am really excited to share it with everyone!

There was a huge amount of creative energy that went into the festival, and it is absolutely worth checking out as a whole, which you can do here:

Enjoy, and happy Beltane!



Black Fantasy: Elf Photoshoot In Roslin Glen, Scotland

About 4 months ago, I had a conversation with my good friend and former flatmate Stephanie, about finding elf ears that actually matched her skin tone. Almost all of the available products were exclusively for white skin tones, and how much fantasy settings and shoots focus on white folk, and there are almost no black fantasy characters (Note, its not for historical accuracy, premodern europe in general was not nearly as homogenously white-skinned as a lot of media tends to present) (Also elves are not historically accurate either unfortunately).

black fantasy elf woman in dark forest holding a candle under the trees

We got chatting, and decided that we may as well make the most of the ears, and settled on a fantasy elf photoshoot in Roslin Glen. Roslin is probably one of the most magical places I know within an hour of Edinburgh, and a definite favourite for photoshoots (as well as shooting our short film Moon Blood). I also had recently taken some photographs with the Cailleach of Samhuinn 2020 for Beltane Fire Festival in the same area, so I was excited to use it again, and see what different spots we could find.

black fantasy elf woman reading in an autumn forest of Roslin Glen, Scotland

I brought a few props, Stephanie designed the costume as a combination of euro-centric fantasy with aspects of her traditional, Ghanaian cultural heritage, and we set to work! We found a few different locations that worked well, had a good time and a catchup, and I am really happy with the results.

We were pretty limited in terms of daylight, so we had to make use of the precious hours we had, but I think it turned out really well. Hopefully we will be able to do plenty more model photography exploring both black fantasy and more high fashion with Stephanie when it becomes sensible and safe to do so.

Big thanks for Stephanie for coming out!



Blacklight Photography

I have a bigger post planned talking about how I first started Blacklight photography (Also known as UV photography), but for now I want to talk about the most recent shoots I did, back in September.

This was a really fun time, I worked with three models on different days, and ended up with quite visually different results with each, focusing on a different style, and use of the UV paints. I think that Blacklight photography is really under-utilised in a lot of ways, mostly ending up associated with party and rave aesthetics, and very rarely used outside of that. (One of my favourite photographers for using Blacklights is the amazing Lasse Hoile, I encourage you to check out his work).

The First Shoot: Katherine

The first shoot was focused on using UV to embody the Cailleach, and I had a great time working with Kat more extensively producing short films later on with a more developed concept, which I will add a link too when they are available.

This was the first real test of the setup I had used in a while, and figuring out any issues that were going to come up, and how to resolve them. One of the bigger issues naturally was social distancing and safety precautions, which meant using longer lenses, and maybe having a slightly more impersonal look as a result. The other issue, is that model had to apply the UV paint herself, instead of me or a Makeup Artist. For the first shoot we kept the UV use limited, and used other props and costuming to complement it, and here are some of the results:

Although we were a bit tight on time and ran into some issues, I am happy with how these turned out overall, and they helped me troubleshoot and think more about different ways to use the paint to create different looks, and how I can complement those with the lighting setup and the camera placement.

(Edit: Kat and I would later go on to do a lot of filming together, for our most recent work check out Moon Blood)

The Second Shoot: Katarina

With the next model we had a lot more time to experiment with different looks and styles, as well as secondary lighting to bring out more than just the UV, and tried a few different application approaches for the paint to see where we could go with it, and I am really happy with how these images came out.

One thing I started thinking about during this shoot, was using UV for video, as well as blacklight photography. While I know it has been used here and there, I would be interested to do some tests and see how to make it work in that visual medium in a way that would be compelling.

The Third Shoot: Olivia

While the first two shoots mostly used the paint to highlight small areas of the face, or allude to it without showing it totally, the final shoot was more of an experiment in painting the whole face, and seeing how that could be utilised with different lighting and angles.

I think all of the different models, painting styles, and approaches bring with them different looks and ideas, and it was great to dig further into exploring those territories, and seeing what can be done.

Conclusion & Advice

I think one of the biggest limitations, is that none of the models or me have a background in makeup, and it would be really interesting to see what could be done if the application was done by someone with a bit more experience. Also use of UV powder, or more UV props, liquids etc to add more depth to the otherwise black background, and more flexiblity with the set in general would add a lot to the images, but I am really happy how they came out all the same.

UV blacklight portrait of young woman with painted face and hands outstretched with messy hair

If you are looking at doing some Blacklight photography, here is some thoughts I have on getting started:

  • Powerful UV cannons are expensive, you can do fine with the cheaper bulbs, just make sure to remove any other unwanted light sources. (Just make sure its a real UV bulb, not a regular bulb with a purple tint!)
  • Decide beforehand what kind of style you are going for, once the paint goes on, it is really hard to completely wash off, so work from more minimal looks to bigger ones to make the most of your time.
  • Light meters are not really made for this kind of lighting situation, manually exposing is pretty neccesary. Exposing for the highlights is even more important than normal here, as what will be overxposed will be all the key points of visual interest.
  • UV paint can produce a lot of different textures and looks based on how long you leave it, if you mix it with different liquids, if you scrape some of it off, think about aspects like texture and colour, and how to use those with other factors to produce unique images.
  • Make sure to get non-toxic UV paint that is created for the purpose of being used on skin!
  • Have fun! Experiment, communicate with your model, make sure they are having a good time as well, play with textures and moods and lighting and props, and see what you can produce.
UV blacklight portrait of young woman with painted face and red background light and empty eyes

Big thanks to Katherine, Olivia, and Katarina for being such amazing models!

All the best,